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Pearl Jam testifies against Ticketmaster

A House of Representatives subcommittee proved sympathetic to the grunge band

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Maybe they should fly a flannel flag over the U.S. Capitol. Pearl Jam’s June 30 testimony before a House of Representatives subcommittee pushed the band’s antitrust complaint against Ticketmaster into the national spotlight. (A representative for Ticketmaster also testified, denying charges that the company has a monopoly on the concert industry.) But the band’s sojourn among the salons also produced a more surreal revelation: Some Washington legislators seem to be going gaga for grunge. After Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were sworn in before a packed house, panel chairman Gary Condit (D-Calif.) dubbed them ”courageous.” Fellow California Rep. Lynn Woolsey gushed, ”I want you to know you’re just darling guys.” And Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a musician himself, confessed that he’d been practicing with the Pearl Jam repertoire: ”I was trying to learn ‘Black’ and ‘Alive,”’ Peterson said. ”I’m still working on it.” Pearl Jam managed to add its own quip to the Congressional Record: Anxious for a break in the questioning, Ament leaned into the microphone and said, ”Actually, I’ve gotta go to the bathroom” — and left the chamber. But the highlight came when Representative Woolsey innocently asked Gossard and Ament, ”What does Pearl Jam mean?” (It is speculated that the group’s name is slang for semen.) When told that they could opt for silence, the two musicians didn’t say a word; they were, after all, under oath.